We’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another, just as so many other writing faux pas. Convenience is fabulous when you need a late night snack or early morning caffeine fix, but it is best left to 24/7 store types and far from your manuscript.
There has to be a certain level of happenstance in your story. A way for love interests to have their meet cute. A way for your hero to find the key to defeating their foe. And that is, often, part of the inciting event that kicks off your story.
Obviously I am a romance junkie, both for reading and writing. That’s where my brain tends to wander, so bear with my example:
Were your eyes rolling as much as mine?
I’ll admit that was a bit exaggerated… but the sad part is that it wasn’t that far off from some things I have read in the past.
I absolutely get it. True confession: I am a word count obsessor. To an unhealthy degree. I monitor each chapter with rabid intensity to make sure it is within a certain parameter I’ve predetermined for myself. No rule, just my own OCD guideline. AND DAMMIT I WILL NOT GO OVER.
Even if that means there is a perfectly timed text.
Even if that means the hobo is actually a millionaire.
Even if that means I have to insert every overdone, convenient trope just to stay within my word count limit/timeline.
Or sometimes? It’s simply because I need to move from plot point A to B and I just plain didn’t think it through too well so I am going to rely on a piece of convenience to save me.
Trust me, I am not picking on anyone but myself when I write these posts.
So what can we do to leave conveniences to those 3am slushy craving moments and not our stories?
As a self-professed pantser, this suggestion is a tough frickin’ pill to swallow but… plan it out a bit. I don’t mean you have to make a snowflake plot diagram or fill your wall with 3 x 5 cards attached to a corkboard (if that is your jam, you are my hero). Planning can be a lovely blend of both pantsing (which I prefer to think of as character led writing) and plotting. You have a few bullet point lines that just lay out the highlights and how to get there without relying on a convenient crutch.
My personal version of plotting consists of knowing my overall plan in my head, then with each chapter I will write a quick 3 – 4 sentence outline for the next three chapters. This way I always know what I am working towards and I know what I need to do to get there realistically.
As always, what I do doesn’t work for everyone so figure out what version of planning – be it minimal or detailed – works best for you.
By all means, don’t remove all convenience. As I said, your meet cute practically hinges on some level of it. Heck, basically the entire holiday movie genre thrives on convenience multiplied. But keep it reasonable, minimal, and still realistic enough that your reader will believe their own Prince/Princess Charming will help them up when they faceplant while running. Ya know, unlike me who only got sympathetic stares from elderly ladies walking their dogs…
Not… that… it… actually happened. Or anything.
The summary, my lovelies, is to do what works best without creating plot points that make your contemporary feel more like a fantasy. Keep in grounded in the real world with enough reality your readers can connect/relate, but balanced with the kind of swoon worthy fiction that makes them forget daily doldrums. Finding your balance in plotting/pantsing will translate into balance in your story.